Fabulous and Free!

September 11, 20207:39 amLeave a Comment

When I first started doing family history, I was very frustrated by the amount of acronyms that were hurled around in conversation.

“Oh yes, couldn’t find it in the BMDs so had to go to the GRO and the IGI”

What were they talking about?

Of course, as I became more experienced I realised that BMDs (Births, Marriages and Deaths) would be found at the GRO (General Registry Office) and indexes to parish records could be found at the IGI (International Genealogical Index) but when I began to teach, I tried (and still try) my hardest not to simply bandy these phrases around as I know that I was shy about asking about what these meant in case I looked like a complete idiot.  How daft I was!

Which roundabout story brings me to the point of this blog, FreeBMD.  As I said, when I started out, I had no idea what this meant but I thought I’d have a look at the site anyway and I have been a loyal fan ever since.

Until the General Registry and Passport Office (and I will refer this as the GRO!) put their birth and death indexes online, there was fairly limited access to this vital resource.  Seasoned family historians will sigh and have fond memories of traipsing up to Somerset House, then the Family Records Centre in Islington in order to browse through the vast (and original) registers containing these indexes.  Microfilmed copies were available scattered at record offices and local studies libraries around the country but it was still quite a faff to get at them.  Enter FreeBMD whose army of volunteers mostly (I truly believe) dedicated family historians loyal to the cause, who have spent many hours transcribing these into a free (clue is in the name!) and easy to use website.

They would be the first to insist that it is not complete but it is the most fantastic resource – and it’s free!  There are also sister sites; FreeCen does exactly the same sort of thing for the censuses and FreeReg is tackling the monumental task of indexing parish registers.

They are transcripts and you should always be aware that whilst they are meticulously checked and cross-checked, there will always be a margin for error.  However, this site is another of those useful tools to add to our genealogical toolbox.

Keep safe and well and Happy Researching!


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Written by Jane Lewis - Modified by ESP Admin

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